Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 10
Spring, 2013
Featured painting, ©2012 by Andrew Abbott : you might like this.

New Works

Nathaniel Tower

A Blade of Love: Love's Sharp Blade

The summer's sun has long ago burnt out, and the crispness of autumn has left most lawns covered with leaves. But not Allan Thermoose's lawn. Every morning and evening, and sometimes even during his lunch break, he circles the lawn with a gentle leaf vacuum. The leaves vanish from his yard before they can even dry out.
Allan is tired of doing yard maintenance, but he has no choice. It's all he really has left in life. When he's not maintaining the yard or slaving away at work, he's standing in the window, staring at his wife while she lies with her new love. Sometimes it makes Allan visibly ill (not that she sees it) to watch the two of them together, his wife caressing the long skin of the erect blade that captured her heart. It's all the woman ever does anymore. Allan tries to think of a time when she caressed him such a way, but his mind is as empty as the gutters he cleans twice a day.
The blade is now fifteen inches tall. It's unsightly and has tarnished Allan's reputation around the neighborhood. He used to be admired for such meticulous lawn care. Now his neighbors snicker that he can't even control one single piece of grass. Not to mention his wife. None of their wives are in love with plants.
Allan's wife has taken to eating her meals outside, and she sleeps there every night as well. The cool weather hasn't driven her in, but they haven't gotten a good freeze yet. Allan wonders how she'll handle that, how she'll deal with the inevitable hardening of the earth and browning of the grass.
He thinks about acting, about charging out there and taking back his wife, but he knows that biding his time is his best bet. The blade of grass must die, and he will be there in her time of need.
Allan's tried to move on. He had a brief fling with the juniper in the backyard, and the bark of the elm tree gave him one heck of a weekend, but nothing has lasted. He hasn't let it last. Those things just don't compare to his wife, or to her blade of grass.
Twice now she's caught him attempting to kill it. The first time was with weed killer. Then she saw him ready to release the beetles. She hasn't had to physically intervene yet. She just has to give him the look, that little pout she used to give him back when she wanted him to do things for her other than lawn care. But it's not the same look. There's just something a bit off about the way she does it now. He can't quite pinpoint it, but it's just not the same.
On a Tuesday, the frost comes. His wife sleeps outside on top of the blade. Allan tells himself she's just doing that to keep it warm, but he can't help but feel there's something else going on. He watches all night, and he swears she thrusts a few times. And in the morning, he finds her body all limp and exhausted, and somehow she's covered in sweat despite the freezing temperature.
"What were you doing out there?" he asks when she steps inside for her morning coffee. He stopped asking this question weeks ago, but now he has reason to ask it again.
"Just keeping him warm," she says. She's started calling it a him. Pretty soon she'll name the thing.
It's just grass! he wants to scream, but he can't scream. Not at her. Instead he hands her a cup of the coffee he brewed moments before she came inside. She takes a sip and thanks him. He waits for a kiss, but she doesn't give him one. He can't recall the last time her lips even so much as brushed his cheek.
"What are you going to do today?" he asks before taking his own sip.
"I'm teaching Gordon to play checkers," she says after another sip.
So she's done it. She's gone and named a piece of grass. She's truly lost her mind.
"Sounds fun." Allan pauses. "Can I play the winner?" He regrets asking almost immediately, but she surprises him and tells him that sounds nice.
He thinks he's won something, but then she snaps, "So you're finally making an effort."
Allan can't believe that he's somehow the bad guy in this situation. After all he's done. The hundreds of hours he's spent helping Gordon thrive! Doesn't this woman appreciate anything?
"You know, Gordon's been asking for weeks when you are going to play with him. He's been awfully hurt by the way you've treated him with the cold shoulder." She starts whispering. "And he thinks you're trying to kill him."
"Gordon is just a blade of grass!" he finally lets out. The release feels good until her hand comes across his face.
"How dare you!" she shouts as she winds up for a second slap. Her palm strikes him again, this time on the ear. His ear thumps like a bass drum and keeps thumping.
"That's it!"
Allan storms off to the garage and grabs everything with the slightest sense of sharpness. An axe, hedge clippers, an ice chisel, hacksaw, jigsaw, circular saw, handsaw, a saw he can't name, a large knife that looks like something you'd take to the rainforest. A chainsaw. Piling it all in a wheelbarrow, Allan throws open the garage and drags his tools to meet Gordon face to face. Of course his wife is already there, sitting like a crab to block Gordon from every direction without crushing him.
"Where's that damn blade!" he shouts at her as he spills the contents of the wheelbarrow unto the recently buzzed lawn.
"Stay away from Gordon!" his wife screams in a panic as her body recoils and bends Gordon's delicate body.
"I told you he was trying to kill me," Allan thinks he hears the grass say, but it might be the wind or the clanging of the sharp tools or his crazed mind. One can only take so much ridiculousness before going crazy.
Allan glares at his wife before reaching for the first tool he can find. It's the hacksaw.
"Get out of my way," he shouts as he wields it above his head. A neighbor passing by with his dog asks if everything is okay. Allan looks back just as the dog relieves itself on a patch of Allan's manicured lawn.
"You better clean that shit up," he yells, waving the hacksaw at the man and dog.
The man and his dog run away. Allan throws the hacksaw with the precision of an archer, and its jagged teeth pierce the pile of shit.
Unarmed, Allan turns and reaches for another weapon, but his wife has beaten him to the punch. She's holding the chainsaw inches from his neck, swearing she'll pull the cord and slice his head clean off if he dares to move closer to Gordon.
"You'll do no such thing," he tells her and follows it with, "You don't even know how to operate that thing."
She pulls the cord, the blade starts to engage, but the machine putters and whirs and coughs and stops. Allan hasn't gassed the device in quite some time.
Before she can pull the cord again, Allan dives to the pile of sharp instruments and selects, not by choice, the first thing his hand can grab. It's the hedge clippers. The blades are very sharp; Allan has been spending at least thirty minutes a week prepping them for this moment, a moment he thought would never come but has dreamed about nevertheless.
Just as Allan begins to stand, he feels the base of the chainsaw come down on his back. For a moment he is paralyzed, and his body drops like cement to the turf. The shock wears off after a second, and Allan realizes his wife is not trying to deliver a fatal blow. The woman could've used the blade, but she spared him. This is just about protection for her.
Before he can get too sentimental about it, his wife brings the chainsaw down on his left foot. This time she does use the blade. It lacerates through his ragged sweatpants and pierces the flesh of his ankle.
Allan's body rolls as the pain radiates up his leg. Everything he just thought is erased. His wife's out for blood. This is about more than just Gordon or any blade of grass. This is about his inadequacies as a husband. He's paid more attention to the lawn than he has to her, and now she's paying him back. The fling with Gordon isn't real. It's just an evil revenge ploy. "Good show," he says aloud, congratulating his wife on such a brilliant display of vengeance. "You've taught me a lesson. I'll be a better husband from now on. I will give you the attention you deserve." He continues to roll back and forth during his speech, never once glancing at her. Finally, when his speech is over and the pain has subsided, the pain he now knows was only in his heart and not in his leg, he ceases the rolling and looks up at his wife. She's standing over him, holding the chainsaw in both hands, a terrified look sunken deep in her eyes. The chainsaw slips out of her fragile hands. She's no chainsaw wielding maniac. She's just the wife of Allan Thermoose, and she loves the man very much.
Allan sees the love pour out of her eyes. She drops her body on top of his, and the two commence a duet of rolling in the grass. The husband and wife plant kisses all over each other, and their kisses fertilize the roots of their once passionate love. Allan tears off her gown just as she rips Allan's shirt. It's a scene from a romance novel, the passion unequaled by anything the earth has ever seen. The lawn, that perfectly manicured lawn, is their lush bedroom. The grass conforms to the curves of their thrusting bodies and provides more comfort than the greatest mattress man has yet to create. Their bodies become part of the lawn, and the grass suddenly seems to form around their planted bodies. The passersby don't even notice their love-making, which is so passionate now that any onlooker would certainly think they were killing each other. Their eyes are so tightly shut that they can't even recognize what it is they are doing. What's happening between them is something no human beings have ever seen before, not even with the most powerful microscope they've created. Their backs arch, their bodies thrust, their loins explode, all in unison, and it's all done motionlessly and noiselessly.
Hours later, the couple is spent. Their bodies, covered in grass, convulse sporadically through no awareness of their own. The sun has set and risen on their bodies, which still haven't moved of their own accord. Slowly, energy returns and their bodies emerge from the soil and shake off the grass.
Finally, the lovers open their eyes to see each other. The love embrace of their eyes lasts only a minute before they see Gordon towering over them, axe raised high. Then they become part of the earth once more.

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. He has a novel and novella out through MuseItUp Publishing. When he isn't writing or doing any of the other standard things writers do, he can be found joggling (running while juggling) through the streets.